To Flush, My Dog

By Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806–1861 Elizabeth Barrett Browning
LOVING friend, the gift of one,
Who, her own true faith, hath run,
   Through thy lower nature ;
Be my benediction said
With my hand upon thy head,
   Gentle fellow-creature !

Like a lady's ringlets brown,
Flow thy silken ears adown
   Either side demurely,
Of thy silver-suited breast
Shining out from all the rest
   Of thy body purely.

Darkly brown thy body is,
Till the sunshine, striking this,
   Alchemize its dulness, —
When the sleek curls manifold
Flash all over into gold,
   With a burnished fulness.

Underneath my stroking hand,
Startled eyes of hazel bland
   Kindling, growing larger, —
Up thou leapest with a spring,
Full of prank and curvetting,
   Leaping like a charger.

Leap ! thy broad tail waves a light ;
Leap ! thy slender feet are bright,
   Canopied in fringes.
Leap — those tasselled ears of thine
Flicker strangely, fair and fine,
   Down their golden inches

Yet, my pretty sportive friend,
Little is 't to such an end
   That I praise thy rareness !
Other dogs may be thy peers
Haply in these drooping ears,
   And this glossy fairness.

But of thee it shall be said,
This dog watched beside a bed
   Day and night unweary, —
Watched within a curtained room,
Where no sunbeam brake the gloom
   Round the sick and dreary.

Roses, gathered for a vase,
In that chamber died apace,
   Beam and breeze resigning —
This dog only, waited on,
Knowing that when light is gone,
   Love remains for shining.

Other dogs in thymy dew
Tracked the hares and followed through
   Sunny moor or meadow —
This dog only, crept and crept
Next a languid cheek that slept,
   Sharing in the shadow.

Other dogs of loyal cheer
Bounded at the whistle clear,
   Up the woodside hieing —
This dog only, watched in reach
Of a faintly uttered speech,
   Or a louder sighing.

And if one or two quick tears
Dropped upon his glossy ears,
   Or a sigh came double, —
Up he sprang in eager haste,
Fawning, fondling, breathing fast,
   In a tender trouble.

And this dog was satisfied,
If a pale thin hand would glide,
   Down his dewlaps sloping, —
Which he pushed his nose within,
After, — platforming his chin
   On the palm left open.

This dog, if a friendly voice
Call him now to blyther choice
   Than such chamber-keeping,
Come out ! ' praying from the door, —
Presseth backward as before,
   Up against me leaping.

Therefore to this dog will I,
Tenderly not scornfully,
   Render praise and favour !
With my hand upon his head,
Is my benediction said
   Therefore, and for ever.

And because he loves me so,
Better than his kind will do
   Often, man or woman,
Give I back more love again
Than dogs often take of men, —
   Leaning from my Human.

Blessings on thee, dog of mine,
Pretty collars make thee fine,
   Sugared milk make fat thee !
Pleasures wag on in thy tail —
Hands of gentle motion fail
   Nevermore, to pat thee !

Downy pillow take thy head,
Silken coverlid bestead,
   Sunshine help thy sleeping !
No fly 's buzzing wake thee up —
No man break thy purple cup,
   Set for drinking deep in.

Whiskered cats arointed flee —
Sturdy stoppers keep from thee
   Cologne distillations ;
Nuts lie in thy path for stones,
And thy feast-day macaroons
   Turn to daily rations !

Mock I thee, in wishing weal ? —
Tears are in my eyes to feel
   Thou art made so straightly,
Blessing needs must straighten too, —
Little canst thou joy or do,
   Thou who lovest greatly.

Yet be blessed to the height
Of all good and all delight
   Pervious to thy nature, —
Only loved beyond that line,
With a love that answers thine,
   Loving fellow-creature !

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Poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning 1806–1861

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Subjects Relationships, Pets

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Elizabeth  Barrett Browning

Biography

Among all women poets of the English-speaking world in the nineteenth century, none was held in higher critical esteem or was more admired for the independence and courage of her views than Elizabeth Barrett Browning. During the years of her marriage to Robert Browning, her literary reputation far surpassed that of her poet-husband; when visitors came to their home in Florence, she was invariably the greater attraction. Both in . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Pets

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Victorian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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